Himeji Castle, Japan

himeji castle, japan

Gazing at the view from the top of Himeji castle was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Japan. I was one of over 820,000 tourists from Japan and abroad to visit the castle each year. Widely considered to be the most spectacular castle in Japan, 5 of its structures have already been listed as National Treasures. It was also recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is all very fitting as the castle dates all the way back to 1333. It is fort to have originally been built as a hilltop fort and has since then been rebuilt and remodeled numerous times through history. In fact there was actually restoration work being done on it while I was there. This wasn’t the best for my sightseeing purposes, but at least they made the effort to draw a picture of the castle (using Fabercastle?) on the construction site covering.

My disappointment dissipated as even though my view of the main structure was obstructed there were spectacular gardens to wonder through, interesting outbuildings with exhibits to explore, and a few roaming ninjas to greet. Yes you read that right, there were casual ninjas walking around this ancient Japanese castle. For those people looking to show their friends photos of their trip, nothing quite says “I went to Japan” like a photo of yourself with a ninja.

himeji castle, japan

There were also more authentic dress-up costumes to be found inside the outbuildings of the castle. The old statues in wooden armor coupled with the strategic lighting were convincing enough to lend the atmosphere an eerie feel. Many helpful sign boards provided fascinating information (in English) on the different exhibits. As a side note, I would like to say that Japan’s tourism industry provides very well for english speakers and that lack of more than basic knowledge of Japanese really shouldn’t be a reason not to visit the country.

inside himejo castle, japan

That being said, there are times when the English on products in Japan still isn’t quite perfectly suited to a native English speaking consumer. For example, if you get tired at Himeji castle you may wish to refresh yourself an energy drink from one of the local vendors. The one I had was labeled in a rather unappetizing way.

Fortunately I didn’t have to drink too much energy drink as there were elevator rides being given to the observation platform on the construction site. (This service was only available during a specific time in the construction period and is no longer available.) The view from the platform was simply stunning. My trip to Japan was during the cherry blossom blooming time (Sakura) and this added gorgeous color to the view. My biggest recommendation is to go see Himeji castle during the three week cherry blossom blooming gap in March/April as the castle grounds literally have hundreds of cherry blossom trees which bathe the grounds in pink. This pink goes very nicely with the gray stone walls of the castle and adds a whole new level of aesthetic pleasure to the experience.

aerial view of himejo castle japan

And access to that spectacular view only cost me 400 yen (approximately $4US). The same ticket also gave me access to the entire Himeji castle complex and grounds as well as numerous photo opportunities with the dressed up characters. Japan is definitely not one of the many countries that put their prices ridiculously high for tourist attractions. This little birdie is telling you right now that stuff in Japan is cheap.

himejo castle ticket japan

All in all this castle is an amazing place to visit and it gets a huge thumbs up from me :)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nikki is a young Kiwi traveller with many more countries on her to-visit list. She enjoys learning languages and recipes during her trips abroad. The next expedition is set to happen just as soon as her university-student-bank-account allows it.

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